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My Journey of Learning to Like What I Have

Val isn't playing life coach by sharing some useful ideas gathered over 7 decades of life experience and hundreds of books on human nature.

At moments life just feels right, and it's worth multiplying such moments -- reasons or not.

At moments life just feels right, and it's worth multiplying such moments -- reasons or not.

Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.

-- Nikos Kazantzakis

Life Is a School with No Promise of Graduation

Ever since my modest personal evolvement was obviously to become a journey without a final destination, many slogans of wisdom served me as valuable signposts on that treacherous path sprinkled with question marks.

I would never go as far as to boast that at any stage it looked like a bold marching in a straight line -- rather a series of some zig-zag baby steps.

Most of them were approved by my intuition as precious pieces of wisdom, whereas some of them I dropped at the side of my road as not belonging to the mindset that was gradually forming into a solid mass of ideas and attitudes.

However, most of them have survived the scrutiny of my ever fussy intuition all the way into these days, while gathering a critical mass of evidence and evolving into something on the next level of reasoning.

One such pearl of wisdom was a tenet of "est", a name having a double meaning -- one being a short for Erhard Seminars Training popular in 70s, and the other simply meaning the Latin word for "is" -- which will have its significance for us in this article.

In the context of the Training it was often said: "If you want to have what you like, then start liking what you have".

At the beginning it didn't have much of a meaning for me, but nevertheless I kept it in my memory for some possible future use, while intuitively sensing its wisdom on some level that was yet inaccessible to me.

It didn't take long for me to take it out from its dormant state and make something huge of it. Namely, my experience and further modest studies of human nature gave it a life when its value got confirmed through parallels being drawn with some other insights.

It might have happened at the point when I realized how my mental disciplines were to remain futile as long as they were based on a conflict between what I had and what I wanted. "Having" did not pertain to just material possessions and living circumstances, but much more than that -- my mindset with all of its emotional and attitudinal tendencies.

Wrestling with some meanings is a good brain gym

Wrestling with some meanings is a good brain gym

What we achieve inwardly, will change our reality.

-- Plutarch

"Whatever Is -- Is, Whatever Isn't -Isn't"

The new understanding of that idea created a little intellectual shock in me. While it meant dissolving of inner conflict which was also achievable by "acceptance", it didn't mean an acceptance of "bad", but acceptance of the mental experience of badness".

However, now I was facing a gigantic mental task of converting so much in my memory bank into something likable, which didn't feel one bit like that.

It must have been at that very point that another famous but tantalizing tenet of est popped up:

"Whatever is -- is, and whatever isn't -- isn't".

On its face value it sounded so silly, that I had to trust Werner Erhard that he had something deeper in mind with that.

And he did. He meant: The only thing that "is", is something happening in this now, and that's what matters. Past events are only experiences of now, so we are dealing with the experience, not with the event. So only the experience of now "is", everything else "isn't".

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We are free from the emotional grip of past events as soon as we give it a significance of experience in this now -- and as soon as we see that we choose to like that mental construct in the now, or not.

For an example, humor has converted some tragic aspects of life into something funny. And we could just look at something in a nonjudgmental fashion, like observing it. Or we could see it as something within a context of our past ways of processing reality when we were less mature and smart -- so it wouldn't have any value for us at this level of our understanding.

For example, my father left us for another woman when I was 9. It's an experience in this now, my mental act of remembering -- not my present reality. I could see it as comical, as irrelevant, as just something that he did because he didn't know any better but to fall for his horny whims.

Above all, I can ask myself one important question: what am I choosing to do to myself with this memory, this momentary mental construct. Am I trying to make myself feel better with it? Is it to entertain me? And if I am choosing to relive those childhood feelings of his leaving us -- and here comes another est favorite: "Why am I being such an asshole to myself to do it to myself?"

Indeed, what would I have against myself to torment myself with things that I don't like? If I call myself my "friend", is that what friends to to each other -- torture them emotionally?

For that's all that's really going on -- all that really "is".

Can we dig out a picture of us being a happy kid and everything in life unfolding from that picture into our adulthood?

Can we dig out a picture of us being a happy kid and everything in life unfolding from that picture into our adulthood?

Our intention creates our reality.

-- Wayne Dyer

Not a Moral or Emotional Issue

Once that we truly, on our gut level, understand that whatever is -- is, and whatever isn't -- isn't, while none of possible interpretations and positionalities can turn the clock backwards and make that event different -- we make ourselves qualified for the next step -- starting to like what we have.

Without that preliminary understanding, "liking something that we don't like" is a phony nonsense, isn't it?

In my example above, "liking" my father's leaving us is not about "approval", it's about a conscious mental activity that overrides its emotional significance. It's that new level of awareness that I am constantly constructing my reality from the materials from the past, present and future -- and the choice is all mine in doing it.

The whole life is nothing but a state of mind in every passing "now". We can choose to keep ourselves a prisoners in our life story -- or our interpretation of it -- or we can convert what we are experiencing into something that we like. So, we are liking the process of our experiencing. We are liking our ability to choose. We are liking our power over our experiencing.

That's what it is, my friends, this introspective ability to detach ourselves from the emotionally charged pictures of our past, and choosing to like it. Again, not necessarily approve it, and yet like it. Liking our ability to disapprove and like disapproving -- simply because liking feels better, it's psychologically and biologically more life-promoting than being pissed.

It takes an open mind and flexible gut to fathom it in its liberating significance.

And I wish more people could cut off their emotional umbilical cord attaching them to their childhood traumas, by seeing with fresh eyes what "is" and what "isn't" in their lives.

Once we understand that we are constantly using outer appearances and behaviors for computation of our intimate reality, we are on a way to also take a responsibility for how we do it.

Life is not just "happening" to us, we are not some victims standing helpless at the end of the receiving line -- but at the cause of it all. We give the suchness to everything with the way we are processing it in our minds and in our hearts.

And when we complain about it, again, it was us who chose chose to complain.

Why not just like our life and everything in it. Why not like all lousy memories -- because we CAN -- by requalifying them just into some likable mental constructs.

© 2022 Val Karas

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